Whips and Chains
Weapons of Redemption, Book 1
by Saloni Quinby
eBook ISBN: 06181-01985
In a seedy underworld of sex and violence, a serial killer is stalking men and Guy is called upon to find the murderer. Ryan, a professional Dom known as the Beast Tamer, specializes in meting out pleasure and pain to oversized men. While undercover, Guy and the sexy young man with a mysterious past become lovers, but is Ryan the next victim or is he the killer?
Guy released a breath as he let his whip fly. It struck his old friend, Ruliff, or Rule, as he preferred to be called. Rule stood, his hands suspended from manacles dangling from chains overhead.
Even if Rule screamed, no one would hear him, deep in the cellar of this mansion owned by their vampiric kin, Ansley and Brayden. Rule wouldn’t scream, though. It wasn’t in his nature to show what he believed to be weakness. To drag more than a groan from Rule, Guy would be forced to practically kill him and his sessions weren’t meant to cause permanent damage. They had already been at it for longer than usual, even for someone with a supernatural constitution.
Five more times Guy struck him with strategically placed blows before he paused and approached Rule. Using the handle of his whip, he traced an especially fierce-looking welt on Rule’s sweat-slicked back. Rule had a tremendous capacity for pain. Always had.
Guy recalled the days when they, along with Brayden, Ansley and the fifth member of their “family,” Bryce, had sailed with Tarun, a genuine monster. The five men had shared a strange and violent past, one that could have destroyed them, but together they had overcome it. Still their days at sea with the vampire pirate — the master who had tried to mold them in his image — had left scars on their souls as well as their bodies. These sessions with Rule reminded Guy of how strong yet vulnerable they all were, even if they refused to admit it.
Rule could be stubborn to the point of stupid.
Guy tightened his hand around the whip and struck Rule again with a blow that would have had most men screaming. A strangled groan escaped the tall, dark-haired man and Guy curled his lip in disgust.
He loved the whip and was an expert with it. Like his vampire kin, he had taken what he’d learned about pain and battle from their hated master and made it a form of expression. They had ultimately used their skills to fight back, not only for themselves but for victims who crossed their path. Each of the five men had mastered certain weapons. Guy’s obsession was the lash. From bullwhips to floggers, all were slaves to him, bringing pleasure or pain as he saw fit. His love of leather had melded into every part of his life, including sex. He used his floggers to pleasure and punish, sometimes separately, sometimes both at once.
Long ago, Guy had honed his skills on his willing brothers, except for Bryce, who refused to submit to anyone, even for fun. Only Rule to this day came to Guy for regular sessions.
Guy decided this one had gone on long enough. He knew Rule would push himself past his limits. He needed a strong but sensitive Dominant who knew when to stop.
Glancing at Rule, Guy noted that he seemed to be in a trance. His blue eyes were narrowed to slits, his lips parted and his breathing shallow. Wet black curls clung to his perspiring forehead and neck. Blood trickled from his lower lip where he’d pierced it with his fangs.
“Our session is over for today,” Guy said without room for argument.
Rule ignored his authoritative tone and said in a deep, hoarse voice, “More.”
“Your name might be Rule, but you don’t rule here,” Guy said.
“Fine. Release me then.”
“Not until you calm down.”
“I am calm.”
“You forget how well I know you.”
Rule’s cool facade snapped. Bellowing, he yanked at his bonds.
Now he screams, Guy thought, but he knew it was probably a good thing. Rule wouldn’t allow Guy to comfort him like some clients enjoyed after a session. Guy worked mainly with supernatural beings — vampires, wizards, and even an occasional werewolf paid well for him to tease and torment them with his leather and chains. But even those creatures had a tender side. Rule’s was buried deep and Guy hoped that eventually someone would reach it.
Despite Rule’s impressive strength, he couldn’t break the chains. Guy’s survival often depended on knowing how to properly bind supernatural beings.
Guy placed his whip next to a heavy purple flogger on a table covered in red plastic. He’d clean his tools later. He was about to clean Rule’s back when his cell phone rang. He knew who it was by the ringtone.
He picked up the phone and said, “What’s up?”
“It’s Bryce. I need your help. It’s business.”
Although the five men had different careers in the human world, their true purpose was to protect those in need. The weapons they had once used as criminals were now their means of redemption.
Bryce worked as a police officer in the city. Sometimes he called upon his brothers to help him resolve crimes in which the human world could offer no justice.
“What does he want?” Rule asked, having ceased his rampage when the phone rang. “Is there a case for us? Let me go!”
“Do you have Rule strung up in the dungeon again?” Bryce asked.
“Yes. I’m putting you on speakerphone.”
“You don’t have to. I can hear him quite well,” Rule said, straining to look at Guy over his shoulder.
Though keen senses were an advantage of vampirism, the speakerphone would make a three-way conversation easier.
“I’ve been working on what we believe are serial killings,” Bryce said. “You’ve probably heard about them. The media calls them the Bodybuilder Murders. We’ve found a common denominator and, Guy, I believe you can get the evidence I need. Will you help?”
“You have to ask?” Guy said.
“Can you use me?” Rule asked.
“Right now this is a one-man job,” Bryce said. “But thanks.”
Rule looked a bit disappointed, but with all the trouble in the world, he was sure to have another case to work on soon.
“Guy, can you meet me in an hour?” Bryce asked.
“Stay put. I’ll come to you.”
Guy pocketed his phone, gathered his tools and headed out of the basement.
“Hey!” Rule snapped. “What about me?”
“Right. Sorry. I got distracted.” He released Rule from his bonds and helped clean him up while he waited for Bryce.
About an hour later, Guy was still in the dungeon, looking over his collection of whips and floggers. He stared hard at the cat-o-nine tails, the first flogger whose bite he had endured and whose power he had wielded. It had been the pirate master’s favorite toy when Guy had been taken aboard his ship.
“Guy,” Bryce said, stepping inside Guy’s private dungeon room. Brayden and Ansley, having offered their home for use as headquarters, provided each man with his own private spaces. Although Guy, Rule and Bryce had their own places to live, this mansion was a second home.
Turning to Bryce, Guy pushed thoughts of the past out of his mind.
Bryce was tall with a lean build, blue eyes and a shaved head. The plainclothes detective appeared to be a handsome, middle-aged man, but like his brothers, he was much more than he seemed. He’d served with the pirate master for longer than any of the five men, having been enslaved in the ancient days. He had been forced to row on the pirate master’s first ship, a bireme. To Guy, the very last of the five companions to be taken, about two thousand years later, it still boggled his mind that even one of their kind could live so long. Yet the pirate master had existed before that. Not one of the men knew his entire past, nor could they guess his true age.
Yet it wasn’t his birth that interested them most, but his death — one that they had sworn to bring about, if they could find a way to destroy the elusive bastard.
“Thinking about him?” Bryce asked, glancing at the cat-o-nine tails.
“Some. Tell me about the case.”
Bryce understood that Guy didn’t want to talk about the past. Not now.
“All the victims have been to Club Josselin and four of the five had seen the same professional Dom, a specialist among specialists I’m told. His name is Ryan Quincy-Carter. Guy, I know you sometimes work out of Club Josselin. Do you know him?”
“It’s been a while since I’ve been there,” Guy admitted. “I’ve never heard of Ryan Quincy-Carter.”
“He’s a very unusual young man. A professional Dom by night and a researcher at the city’s botanical garden by day. I have strong suspicions about him, but no hard evidence. I questioned him using my most persuasive methods, but he didn’t break.”
“Your most persuasive methods? Mind games?”
Many vampires, especially old ones, had the ability to hypnotize most people. Few humans had the strength to resist a vampire’s mind control.
“I’d like you to go to Club Josselin, talk to this guy and find out what you can. He might open up to someone he views as an equal — or a friend.”
“You think he’s the killer?”
“Possibly. However, by looking at the victims, I think the killer is probably bigger than Ryan, not that it would be impossible for him to do it. I’m leaning more toward the idea that he knows who the killer is. Guy, I have to find out what he’s hiding before someone else is murdered.”
“How about some details about the murders?”
“The victims are all big men, hence the Bodybuilder Murders. They range from six-foot-three to six-foot-eight. Average weight two-fifty. Pretty much all muscle. They were found unclothed and bound. Two were in their apartments. One was in the parking lot behind a movie theater that’s been out of business for about three years. The latest victim was found at the graveyard a few blocks from Club Josselin.”
“How were they killed?”
“A severe blow to the head, after being beaten and tortured for several hours.”
“Any sign of rape?”
“Strangely, no. Whoever did this might have lured them under sexual pretense, but there were no signs of sexual assault.”
That was strange. These men were found naked and bound and they frequented a club that was a not-so-secret sexual playground.
“Will you do it?” Bryce asked.
“I’ll go there and see what I can find,” Guy said. “Did you sense any supernatural activity?”
“None, except for Ryan’s unusual control of his own mind. I also get the feeling that it goes deeper than that. He’s very good at reading people.”
The annoyed expression that flashed across Bryce’s face set off a warning alarm in Guy. Bryce was excellent at getting people to talk and he was as skilled as Tarun at crawling into people’s heads, psyching them out and making them tell the truth while at the same time defending his own thoughts. Yet something about this human disturbed him.
“Did he read you?” Guy asked.
“Let’s just say he’s very observant. Maybe too observant for his own good.”
“You mean he might have inadvertently discovered the killer and now he feels threatened himself?”
“In this case, anything is possible. It’s going to be dangerous. You sure you’re in?”
“Since when has danger bothered one of us?”
Bryce nodded curtly. “Can you get on it tonight?”
“I’d like to visit the crime scenes.”
“We can go right now.”
The men left in Bryce’s car. At the crime scenes, Guy concentrated mostly on the feel of each area. If he had been able to visit the scenes earlier, he could have studied scents as well, but it had been months since the murders at the apartments. They had already been thoroughly cleaned.
Standing in the graveyard where the last body had been found, Bryce said, “During my investigations, I caught three of the same scents at the two apartments where victims were found.”
“Is one of them Ryan’s scent?” Guy asked. “Is that why you suspect him?”
If Bryce’s only evidence was that he’d smelled the killer, it would be almost impossible for him to prove that by the laws of humans.
“No. His scent was at one of the apartments, but not the other. By the time we discovered the body at the abandoned movie theater, there were no scents left, other than that of the victim. Here at the mausoleum, the entire place, body included, had strangely enough been doused with bleach. It was a freakin’ mess. The fifth killing was out of state, but with the same MO. I went to the scene, but too much time had passed for me to catch the scent of anyone involved. I’ve been to the club several times, hoping to match scents, but so far there’s nothing except Ryan. At the moment I’m running through a list of Ryan’s clients, but some of them are hard to locate.”
Guy sighed and walked inside the mausoleum where the last victim had been found, chained to the top of a casket. Like Bryce had said, the place still reeked of bleach. He didn’t stay long.
“Contact me as soon as you know anything. I mean anything, got it?” Bryce told him once they were back in the fresh air. “If we can bring this guy down while playing by human rules, it will be better for me. I’ve already been involved in too many cases with unexplainable circumstances. One more and I might have to look for a new job.”
“I’ll do what I can. If the killer is human, we should have no problem handling this.”
A crooked grin tugged at Bryce’s lips. “How many times have we said that in the past?”
“Don’t know. Lost count.”
Still this case didn’t sound too complicated, just frustrating for Bryce because he’d found a mere human who could match his mental powers. A smile tugged at Guy’s lips. Part of him actually looked forward to meeting Ryan.